Strips of newspaper have been a staple for worm composters for many years. They are readily available, absorb moisture and eventually are incorporated into the finished product. Unfortunately they also don’t really absorb much moisture and can mat down and take a long time to be eaten. Large scale vermicomposting doesn’t use newspaper, either.
I’ve recently applied a tip I learned from large-scale food waste composting to bedding for worms. The large scale food waste units are designed to take food waste only. This feed stock is over 90% water and can get too damp quickly. To balance their Carbon to Nitrogen mixture, they use hardwood stove pellets in a ratio of one part pellets to 6 parts food waste. The pellets are made of hardwood sawdust glued under pressure with starch. They take up a minimum of space in the reactor and absorb a maximum of moisture. A plus is that they digest readily.
Guess what, they do the same for worm composting. Using the hardwood woodstove pellets over this winter has been a dream. Once they puff up (like a cheeto), they’ve absorbed a lot of moisture and seem to melt right into the mass. A final plus is that they are readily available and cheap. (40 lbs for $5.00) Give them a try and let me know what you think.
In the first photo I’ve just added a double handful of pellets into a very moist section of this colony. There is actual liquid visible and a danger of the bottom going anaerobic.
In the second photo, the pellets have expanded and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stirring the bottom layer into the upper layers and adding more pellets resolved the issue.
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